Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: ‘The Return of the Ripper’: Anna Elliott & Charles Veley


I RECEIVED THE TITLE IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MINE. PIC & SYNOPSIS BELONG SOLELY TO THE AUTHOR/PUBLISHER.

Book 7 of 8 in A Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mystery (8 Book Series)
SYNOPSIS: October 1897. Diamond mogul Cecil Rhodes wants Sherlock Holmes to break up a smuggling ring. Lucy James is preoccupied with her role as an actress and her upcoming wedding. And then, London’s most infamous murderer makes a most unwelcome entrance.

The Baker street team soon find themselves enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy, with tentacles that reach far beyond the shadows of Whitechapel. Lucy and Holmes will need more than their usual deductive brilliance to defeat their latest adversary, or else the case of the Ripper will be their last.

If you love a strong heroine, a touch of romance, and a classic Holmes, you’re going to love this fast-paced adventure.

MY THOUGHTS: I was thrilled to see that Holmes & Lucy were set to work on the elusive Ripper phenom. There’s been a resurgence of interest in Jack the Ripper in recent years, fueled by theory & the hunt for the ‘one who got away’. Part of the entertainment value, if one can call it that, in the Ripper’s legend is that so many people think they know who he was and there are so many suspects!

It’s timely that two of the finest detectives to ever grace the pages of a novel are now involved! Now, that alone would have made an incredible novel, but there’s more! We are also treated to Holmes taking on a smuggling ring and Lucy is getting ready for her wedding. There’s never a dull moment in their lives.

As always, our favorite father-daughter author duo has brought their ‘A’ game. There is so much to love about this book. It’s the kind of detective story that readers will want to read more than once because it’s so much fun to watch the plot unravel. Again, we have the iconic Sherlock doing what he does best while remaining true to the roots planted by Doyle in his original works. Lucy once again proves her skills at being a Renaissance woman as she solves crimes, maintains her acting career, and still has time for a productive social life. Dr. Watson is proof positive that the limelight isn’t necessary in order to make a difference or to be a great friend.

With a unique twist on all things Jack the Ripper along with the great diamond smuggling side plot, our authors hit yet another home run with this incredible, 5 star novel. I highly recommend this series and hope there are many more installments to come! Bravo!

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Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Mosquito Creek Inn: Sherrie Todd-Beshore

I RECEIVED THE TITLE IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MINE. PIC & SYNOPSIS BELONG SOLELY TO AUTHOR/PUBLISHER.

SYNOPSIS: “Eleven-year-old Sonia Molosky’s quiet summer and that of her close friends begins to shift after an insurance investigator arrives in Mosquito Creek to settle the vast estate of a young heiress who disappeared seven years before. When Sonia discovers the contents of a suitcase behind a hidden door at the back of her mother’s closet, she convinces six of her pals to help her search for new clues to the unsolved mystery. Curiosity soon escalates events to an unexpected discovery that challenges their untested resourcefulness and courage in order to outwit and expose a cruel and cunning foe. While attempting to retrace the path the missing girl rode her horse the afternoon she disappeared, history begins to repeat itself…”

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Mosquito’ is Book 1 of 7 in the Mosquito Creek Detective Club series. From page 1, it was engaging and gripping. Although it is marketed as YA and rightfully so, I had great fun reading it! Good mysteries are timeless and ageless.
As a lead character, Sonia is capable and intelligent. All the children in the series are respectful to each other as well as their elders. Adults aren’t portrayed as imbeciles as is so often the case in YA fiction. It’s a clean read. I found no cursing or violence making it more than acceptable for middle school through adults. In fact, I’d recommend it to adult readers in need of a new series.
As for the plot, it is original and a good, old-fashioned whodunit. Messages throughout the book related to teamwork, having a sense of community, and the importance of family. I recommend this series and give ‘Mosquito’ 5 stars.

Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Die Again, Mr. Holmes: Anna Elliott & Charles Veley



I RECEIVED THE MENTIONED TITLE IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MINE. PIC & SYNOPSIS BELONG SOLELY TO THE AUTHORS/PUBLISHER. SPECIAL THANKS TO Sarah Miniaci OF SMITH PUBLISHING FOR HER KINDNESS & UNDERSTANDING.

SYNOPSIS: Meet Lucy James, the detective partner Sherlock Holmes never expected!

The newest gripping adventure in this popular mystery series takes us from the Old Bailey courthouse and the seacoast lairs of smugglers to a grand British country estate and the iconic financial headquarters of Lloyd’s of London.

Watson, Sherlock and Lucy find themselves up against a powerful conspiracy.

Survival will require valor, sacrifice, and acts that go far, far outside the law.

As the story opens, a young woman begs Sherlock Holmes to help find her missing fiance, but the great detective makes an uncharacteristic mistake.

Then Sherlock’s daughter, Lucy James, takes on a missing person case of her own.

But Lucy must also keep a vicious criminal away from Becky, Lucy’s ten-year-old sister-in-law, and little Becky soon becomes dangerously involved in both cases.

Then the Baker Street team gets the devastating news that Sherlock Holmes has been murdered.

MY THOUGHTS: Absolutely fabulous! I have been blessed enough to follow this series from the beginning. Each book gets better and better (even though they were already amazing!). Being that the content is clean and action-packed, I have recommended the series to countless librarians and fans of mysteries. I never have to think twice because I know each book is a quality read, without questionable situations, and any new readers will quickly become permanent fans.

As a female lead, Lucy reigns supreme. As an intelligent problem-solver, Lucy relies on her brain to solve dilemmas and live her life honorably. She is a fabulous role model to YA readers who are too often exposed to characters who utilize their gender is a less than appropriate way. Allowing her to team up with the icon that is Sherlock proves that she can hold her own. Doyle, himself, would be quite proud of how his characters welcome her and of Lucy in general.

I loved the plot twists with Sherlock faking his death and then the elements of a good, old-fashioned mystery. This is the way mysteries are supposed to be written! I give it a full 5 stars and highly recommend the series!

ABOUT THE SHERLOCK HOLMES & LUCY JAMES MYSTERY SERIES
The Sherlock Holmes & Lucy James Mystery Series by Charles Veley and Anna Elliott to date includes The Last Moriarty (2015), The Wilhelm Conspiracy (2016), Remember, Remember (2017), The Crown Jewel Mystery: A Prequel (2017), The Jubilee Problem (2017), Death at the Diogenes Club (2017), The Return of the Ripper (2018), and Die Again, Mr. Holmes, released on January 2, 2019. All titles are available for purchase in paperback, e-book, and audiobook formats via Amazon and Audible.
Website: http://sherlockandlucy.com/

Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Diversity is Key: Bryan Smith



SYNOPSIS:
It’s diversity week at Amelia’s school, and she has no clue what it means or why it matters. Every day, she’s introduced to cultures, cuisines and customs that push Amelia outside her comfort zone and test her preconceived notions about people and places. Is Mei really asking me to bow when I introduce myself? Is Rosa really celebrating toes, and how the heck do I eat something wrapped in a corn husk? And why is Malia’s mom gyrating in a grass skirt? Amelia has lots of questions (and a few concerns), but the more she experiences, the more she realizes how diversity makes life more fun. She also discovers that differences shouldn’t divide people because everyone shares something in common. Diversity is Key! was penned by Bryan Smith whose Without Limits book series celebrates children with character. 32 pgs.

MY THOUGHTS: Full disclosure: I was hesitant about this one. Many times when the word ‘diversity’ is used, the author pushes a specific narrative that may be against my own religious beliefs. I am SO relieved that Bryan Smith had more integrity than that!

In fact, he did an amazing job CELEBRATING diversity. He nailed the reasons why it’s a good thing and left out all the PC narrative nonsense too many of us have to listen to on media. It isn’t a risqué book in any way. Instead, we have 3 students who bring 3 separate identities to their classroom. Do’s and Don’ts in regards to politeness are discussed, but the children aren’t forced into participation or controversial topics. Even the mention of the Day of the Dead is handled beautifully. While it could’ve been presented in a Halloween-type way, our author takes the high road and specifies that it’s a celebration of the deceased loved one’s life. Well done!

The illustrations are spot on as are the multiple messages. Respect each other. Be polite to those who are different. Try new things. Respect those in authority and those older than you. Great messages. I enjoyed Amelia and her class. I give this one 5 stars.
https://www.boystownpress.org/

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#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Freddie the Fly Bee On, Buzz Off: Kimberly Delude

SYNOPSIS: Freddie, our lovable fly, is tappin’ and flappin’ his way to trouble. He whirls around to and fro, buzzing from one distraction to another. Is it any wonder he forgets his lunch, fails his spelling test and leaves the house semi-undressed? Freddie is a go-go-go kind of guy who has no time to listen, focus or pay attention. His lack of concentration causes a real fright when he finds himself lost and alone at the zoo. Will that be the scare Freddie needs to finally take action and turn his BEE on and his BUZZ off? Readers will love finding the answers in this delightfully insightful tale by speech-language pathologist and educator Kimberly Delude.

MY THOUGHTS: If there was any character I could ever relate to, it’s Freddie! Having Parkinson’s means never sitting still and having the MOST difficult time concentrating. Poor Freddie can’t keep it together, either. Although flies may not be the most popular insect, this fly will find his way into your heart.

Kimberly Delude has done a terrific job addressing a problem that many elementary school parents see daily- forgetful kids who can’t stay focused. I love Gus, the zoo guide. His gentle guidance makes all the difference. It’s definitely a hat tip to patient parents! Freddie delivers on several fronts. His story promotes teamwork when he teams up with a fellow student to help each other. He demonstrates respect for authority by heeding the instruction & advice of those in charge. He shows responsibility for his actions by admitting his inattentive nature. Plus, he provides a solution in the end.

Adorable illustrations via Brian Martin add humor and depth to the characters. I am now a ‘fly fan’. There are two previous books in the series which I’d recommend also. ‘Freddie’ gets a 5 star review from me!
https://www.instagram.com/boystownpress/
https://www.facebook.com/BoysTownPress/

I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. Pic/synopsis belongs solely to the author/publisher.

Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Parker Plum and the Rotten Egg Thoughts: A Story about Learning to Look on the Bright Side: Billie Pavicic

SYNOPSIS: Parker Plum wakes up to find a little green egg filled with rotten egg thoughts on his pillow and he must learn to unscramble his self-defeating thoughts before it explodes.

MY THOUGHTS: I love this book. I combines all the best elements of children’s storytelling. First, we have a strong, relevant, moral message. ‘Be positive’. In a society bombarded by negativity, it is so easy for children to dread the start of every day. Regardless if your readers attend a brick-and-mortar school or are at home, they will no doubt face every situation Parker does. Parker himself is an easily relatable character. He isn’t too in-depth as to cause a switch in focus for younger readers. He is simply a boy, dealing with a real-world situation.
It is a completely clean book. No risky business. No violence, etc. Beginning readers will expand their vocabulary while older readers won’t be bored with overly simplistic language. Illustrator Susan Garber has nailed it with her drawings. Each one adds to the story without being overwhelming or distracting. Billie Pavicic adds humor with a young man with a flatulence issue (without it being too gross or too important to the story) and with a very wise lunch lady.
Also of note, Parker has surrounded himself with quality friends. They don’t judge. They encourage him to change his view for his own good as well as those around him. That’s a very good underlying message for today’s youth. Bottom line: ‘Parker Plum’ is a 5 star children’s book worth purchasing and adding to your classroom library.

About Boys Town Press:
Boys Town Press publishes children’s and educational books, and produces resources for educators, parents, and youth-serving professionals, all in line with Boys Town’s goal of “Saving Children, Healing Families.” Boys Town Press is a division of Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home, a mission-driven organization that works in diverse communities with the highest-need kids and their families. Its publications are based on the proven techniques used in Boys Town programs.

Learn more about Boys Town Press and its titles at http://www.boystownpress.org.

https://www.facebook.com/BoysTownMission
I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. Synopsis & pic belong solely to the author/publisher.

Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Ara the Star Engineer: Komal Singh


SYNOPSIS: Ara the Star Engineer inspires kids – especially girls and children of color – to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as it follows a 6-year old girl, Ara, on a quest to build an algorithm to solve a big problem (suspense!).

During her adventure, Ara is helped by a diverse set of real-life women engineering leaders of color — a Tenacious Troubleshooter, Code Commander, Prolific Problem Solver, Intrepid Innovator. The book teaches basic problem solving & computer science concepts along the way in a whimsical manner. Ara also includes an attached mini-booklet with a deeper tech dive, and online activity sheets with hands-on tech activities.

All profits from the book sales will be donated to charities encouraging women’s and girls’ participation in STEM fields. This book is not an official Google product; but a grassroots, passion project of Google employees in their personal capacity striving for an equitable future for all girls.

MY THOUGHTS: First and foremost, I love this book! It isn’t just for girls. Boys can gain just as much knowledge from it as their female counterparts can. I love that the cast of characters Ara visits are real-life, superwomen. Their jobs aren’t just described. They are elaborated on so that ages 5+ can understand completely what each job entails. I’ll readily admit it- I learned a lot from this book! Anyone who has ever gone cross-eyed when someone mentioned ‘algorithms’ needs to read this too!

This is the PERFECT STEM book. But, it goes far beyond that label. It’s also a career guide. Readers who are already interested in tech can pinpoint career possibilities based off the descriptions given. It has a strong message, too. Never give up. Ara faces obstacles in her quest, but, she continues to work hard, no shortcuts, and perseveres. Yes, it’s also a female empowerment anthem. Female readers, especially impressionable ages, need role models. They need to know that it’s ok to be feminine, intelligent, and successful as a total package like the women in this book. It can also be incorporated into homeschool curriculums with classes such as math & tech.

This is the type of children’s book we need more of. Entertaining, educational, and with an outstanding message, it is 5 stars for our Star Engineer!

About the Author:
Komal Singh works at Google as a Program Manager in Engineering. As a techie, a mother, and an immigrant, she’s passionate about using technology as an enabler and an equalizer for all. She takes part in kids’ coding clubs, sits on hackathon judge panels, and volunteers with nonprofits on technology development.
ISBN: 978-1-989025-05-5 • Hardcover • $15.95 USD • $19.95 CDN
*The pic & synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.
**I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.